By Crystal Becerril > Senior > English and Journalism > Boston University; Photo by AR > Sophomore > Graphic Design > UMBC
Crunching out the numbers can be tough. There’s the worry of whether someone might judge you, the worry it may be too low or too high, the worry that you don’t even know–or remember it– off-hand.
No, I’m not talking about your landline telephone number! I’m talking about the notches on your bedpost, the number under your belt: your sexual partner count.
The reason “the number” can be awkward to reveal is the uncertainty behind its perception. Does it really affect someone’s view in the pursuit of a relationship? Is it better to have fewer partners or more?
And of course, the age-old question: does gender matter?
The truth is, there is no standard way that a person, male or female, consequently feels about knowing your digits. But we all know that it’s commonly skewed so that while a high number might look impressive for a guy, the same might look slutty for a girl.
Is this really still the case today?
“I don't care how many people a person has slept with. I would prefer someone with some sexual experience or someone who hasn't, but is open to it, isn't scared and wants to gain experience,” said Jeremy Blacker, a student at Brandeis University.
The blasé attitude towards the number from some guys is also found among some girls.
“There are worse things than being promiscuous,” said Evelyn Espitia, a Suffolk University student. “I look at it kind of like if they had a really tacky tattoo: It's ugly, but it's not going to stop me from liking him.”
Yet liking someone and having them as a sexual partner may be completely different, depending on what you look for in a relationship, and not all take the matter lightly.
“I wouldn't pursue somebody who has been with too many people: more than 5 and I'm not interested,” said Jennifer Lowen*, a University of Michigan student. “I do think it says something about someone who has had a lot: they don't value sexual relations, it’s just physical for them.”
Male or female, viewing sex as a physical or emotional connection is completely personal. Facing the social stereotypes and double standards held between genders and numbers, some might try to compensate—or conceal—their bedtime (hi)stories.
“A person could be lying to sound cool or lying to hide the amount of people they've slept with,” said Kayla Martin, a student at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst.
Overall, the gender gap in views on “the number” may seem to be fading, but the question remains.
Ignoring stereotypes, adhering to strict values, or lying your way past both, in the end, do you really want to be with someone whose view on “the number” is incompatible with yours?
“To me, there's a more important number. I care more about how many times they've been in love before. I think that says more about a person,” said Espitia.
* Some names have been changed for privacy reasons.